John Cardinal Newman Council 9445

Serving the Parish Community of St. Paul Catholic Newman Center

Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney


Though only 38 years old, no one was surprised at your Father McGivney's death on the eve of the Assumption in 1890. Always somewhat delicate in health, he had for several months been battling tuberculosis. Priest of the lat 19th century were commonly overworked and a significant number died of exhaustion and disease. Michael McGivney was no exception. He was exceptional, however, in what he accomplished during the short span of his years on earth. He was an exemplary parish priest with a unique gift in ministering to the young who turned to him for counsel, encouragement and direction.


His sensitivity to the welfare for the young came through his own experience in a devout Catholic family in Waterbury, Connecticut. The eldest of 13 children, he knew the seriousness of the struggle to provide for the needs of such a large family. He was 13 years old when he began working in a local spoon factory. Several years later he began his formal studies for the priesthood, was ordained in December 1877 and assigned to St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut, where his ministry to the young and underprivileged was to be marked by such fervor and success. The young working man and his family were the object of Father McGivney's special concern and affection.


It was for the spiritual and material benefit that he gathered a group of his young friends in the basement of St. Mary's Church in the fall of 1881. At 29 years of age, Father McGivney became the founder of the Knights of Columbus, a lay organization that would provide fraternal support among Catholic men and insurance benefits for them and their families in time of death and need. he was an apostle of the Christian family. Father McGivney combined a serious and retiring disposition with an intense interest in others and their needs. He was known for his fondness for children and his keen sense of humor. He always put the obligations of his priestly vocation before any other consideration, even the organization of his beloved Knights of Columbus.

Love of God & Neighbor

Before all else, he was a priest, and his burning desire was to bring all those he met to Christ and to his Church. He made converts among the young Protestants of New Haven and ministered lovingly to those in prison. After his time at St. Mary's, Father McGivney had only one more assignment, as pastor of St. Thomas Church in Thomaston, Connecticut. It was there, less that 10 years after the establishment of the Knights of Columbus, that the servant of God died on August 14, 1890, just two days after his 38th birthday.